SAN FRANCISCO: Apple, Facebook and other Internet titans denied Thursday opening doors for US intelligence agencies to mine data from their servers.
The reaction came after The Washington Post reported that a secret program called PRISM gave the National Security Agency (NSA) and the FBI back doors into servers at major Internet companies.
“We have never heard of PRISM,” said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling.
“We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”
The Post revelations, also reported by British newspaper The Guardian, come amid a furor over the government’s monitoring of phone communications that reopened debate over surveillance methods first adopted by George W. Bush’s administration after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The newspaper cited details of a briefing on the top secret program — known as PRISM — intended for analysts at the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate in April.
The program was set up in 2007 and has grown “exponentially” to the point where it is now the most prolific contributor to President Barack Obama’s Daily Brief, the US leader’s top-secret daily intelligence briefing.
Some of the biggest firms in Silicon Valley were involved in the program, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Apple, PalTalk, AOL, Skype and YouTube, reports said.
However, Internet titans contacted by AFP denied providing intelligence agencies with back doors to networks and were adamant that they only cooperated with legal “front door” requests for information.
“We do not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers,” said the leading social network’s chief security officer, Joe Sullivan.
“When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law.”
Google and Microsoft were also adamant that they carefully review all requests by the government for user data and disclose only what is legally demanded.
“From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data,” the California company said.
Microsoft said that if the government has a “broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data, we don’t participate in it.”
California-based Yahoo firmly stated that it does not provide the government with direct access to its servers, systems or network.